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    Keweenaw

    National Historical Park Michigan

James P. Corless named as Superintendent for Keweenaw National Historical Park

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Date: April 9, 2007
Contact: Patty Rooney, (402) 661-1532

Omaha, Neb. — James P. Corless, Superintendent at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska has been named as the new superintendent of Keweenaw National Historical Park (NHP) in Calumet, Mich.

In announcing Corless’ appointment, Ernest Quintana, director of the National Park Service (NPS) 13-state Midwest Region, said, “Jim’s strong public history background, and intensive and extensive involvement in, and understanding of, partnerships and community engagement will serve him well in his new assignment. We are excited about the new ideas and opportunities he will bring to Keweenaw NHP.”

Corless will begin his new assignment on Sunday, June 10. Prior to his 2 1/2–year Superintendency at Klondike Gold Rush, Corless served as Chief of Interpretation and Education at Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Mass., where, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts, he managed the nationally-recognized Tsongas Industrial History Center education program, serving 62,000 on-site students and teachers annually.

In early 1980, Corless served as a volunteer Curatorial Clerk in the NPS National Capital Region White House Liaison Office in Washington, D.C.He then worked in a volunteer/intern/ seasonal capacity as a Park Technician at he C & O Canal National Historical Park at Green Falls, Md. Corless’ first permanent position came in late 1981 as a Park Ranger at Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pa., leading to a Supervisory Park Ranger position in 1984 at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio, Texas. For 4 years, he was a Park Historian at Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, Mo., and then Chief Ranger at both Fort Frederica National Monument in St. Simons Island, Ga., and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Elverson, Pa. Beginning in 1994, Corless spent over 6 years at Yosemite National Park in Yosemite, Calif., progressing from Valley District Interpreter to Chief of the Branch of Interpretive Services, and finally to Deputy Chief, Interpretation, Communications, and Education., where he served on planning teams for parkwide efforts including the Yosemite Valley Plan.

A native of Silver Spring, Md., Corless holds a bachelor of arts in U.S. History, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland in College Park. He received the Shipleys of Maryland Award for outstanding academic achievement in the history field. Corless will be moving to the Keweenaw Peninsula with his wife, Mary Jane, a cruise travel consultant. Their daughter, Virginia, a graduate of MIT, is pursuing a doctorate in astrophysics at Cambridge University under a Marshall Scholarship.  Virginia is also an avid actor and a history buff, a love developed during her years as a living-history volunteer with the NPS.

Corless said, “Keweenaw National Historical Park first caught my interest as Chief of Interpretation and Education at Lowell NHP, a park with similar themes, goals, and partnerships. Now I’m pleased to be able to take what I learned there and as Superintendent at Klondike Gold Rush to work with the communities of the Keweenaw Peninsula and my team in the park in interpreting and preserving its diverse stories and resources.”

Keweenaw NHP was established in 1992 to commemorate the many stories of copper mining and the copper mining life on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. Jutting in Lake Superior, the Keweenaw Peninsula contains the only place in the world where commercially abundant quantities of pure, native cooper occurred. It has the oldest metal mining heritage in the western hemisphere – one which dates back 7,000 years. The park largely incorporates the existing Calumet and Quincy National Historic Landmarks.

Did You Know?

A piece of float copper sets on exhibit near the Calumet & Hecla general offices.

The largest known quantities in the world of pure, native copper were found on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. In some cases, the deposits were up to 97% pure, requiring little chemical processing to produce ingots of pure copper.